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Bahamian Wedding

Traditions, Customs, and Observances of Weddings in the Bahamas

Do you want to travel home to the Bahamas to tie the knot there? They say East or West, home is best. Discover your Bahamian roots before setting out. We have done most of the homework for you in this guide. Follow it keenly to organize and stage a grand wedding ceremony that not only pleases your relatives but also appeases your Bahamian ancestors.

Bahamian weddings have so many similarities to American and English weddings. However, a few traditional rituals make this love affair truly unique to the Caribbean island. Whether you are going to have the ceremony there or back in the United States, it is prudent to honor the values, traditions, and observances of your motherland.

Obtaining a Marriage License for Bahamian Wedding

The Bahamas is a culturally diverse country. Wedding customs often vary from one religious denomination to another. It can be really auspicious if you incorporate the practices of various sects to make your affair a masterpiece. As we are living in modern times, you must get a certification from the government.

To obtain a license of marriage, the bride and groom must have been in the Bahamas at least 24 hours before the wedding. Some Caribbean countries give couples the option to apply online and through the mail, but not in the Bahamas. You will have to set foot together at the office of the Registrar General. It is located at Rodney Bain Building along Parliament and Shirley Street in the country’s capital, Nassau.

The office opens at 9.00 a.m. and closes at 4.30 p.m. Monday through Friday. It is closed on weekends and public holidays. You will have to part with $100 for the application of the marriage license. If you want to tie the knot in one of the country’s Out Islands, you can obtain a marriage license from the local office of the Commissioner.

The following is a list of requirements that you must bring at the time of application.

  • Evidence of date of arrival at the Bahamas.
  • Valid passports for the bride and groom.
  • If either party is divorced, a Certificate of Divorce with a raised seal.
  • If either party is widowed, a Certificate of Death of the deceased spouse.
  • It is the custom for the bride and groom to ride a horse carriage as they make a grand entrance.
  • If the bride and groom have never been married, a notarized declaration. The couple must have the notarization at the Bahamas or at the American Embassy in Nassau for $55.

Regulations for Bahamian Weddings

Once you obtain your marriage license, you can hold the wedding within 90 days’ time. You can choose whichever day of the week. You can bring whatever number of guests you want. However, the presiding minister has to be a resident of the Bahamas. Couples are free to bring bridesmaids and groomsmen to assist in planning.

Are you Roman Catholics and want to hold the wedding in a church? You have to get instruction from your local Catholic Church in the United States for six weeks prior to the wedding. The priest then communicates your intention to the Chancery in the Bahamas.

While local churchgoers can help in cleaning and beautifying the church, it is always prudent to bring your own handmaids. Catholic weddings in the Bahamas are just like anywhere else, complete with a Holy Mass, exchange of solemn vows, rings, and signing of the wedding certificate. It culminates in the groom kissing the bride upon which the two are declared legally married. 

Traditions and Observances of Traditional Weddings in the Bahamas

Traditional ceremonies are done at the sunset beach. The backdrop is an enthralling and picturesque setting. It doesn’t make sense to have it at noon or afternoon when the temperatures are sweltering. Musicians wearing colored costumes and masks perform a “Junkanoo”. It is a unique live concert to get the guests in the wedding mood.

The real party begins in earnest at a Bahamian wedding reception. You can choose to have live music from a band, a solo artist or an electric deejay. The couple dances the night away in the company of their guests. Most receptions are held at rented hotels, ballrooms or tented camps on the beach.

Typical wedding songs in the Bahamas are modern and feature heavy Caribbean playlist. Ask your deejay to bring the following.

  • Bloom – by The Paper Kites
  • I Love How You Love Me - by Camera Obscura
  • Can’t Help Falling In Love - by Ingrid Michaelson
  • I Can Hear Music - by She & Him
  • The Backpack Song - by Bear Attack!
  • Flightless Bird, American Mouth - by Iron & Wine
  • I Will Be There - by Odessa
  • My Favourite Book - by Stars
  • Love You To Pieces - by Jeremy Messersmith
  • You & I - by Rosi Golan
  • Falling in Love at a Coffee Shop - by Landon Pigg
  • Love And Some Verses - by Iron & Wine

Just like elsewhere in the Caribbean, seafood is a must-have in the main course. Fish foods such as tuna, salmon, and tilapia are common sights. Ensure your main course has deep-fried conch and rich lobster to tantalize the taste buds of your guests. Have chicken, various rice preparations, potatoes, fries, and American beef burgers as part of the buffet. Traditional palm wine is a great addition to all foreign wines, champagne, beer, and rum.

There is no traditional Bahamian wedding cake, so feel free to bring what you fancy. However, you can ask local bakers to add coconut to the frosting or batter. Guests will party well into the late hours of the night. It is a custom for them to take home a party bouquet. Ensure there are giveaways such as photographs, cards, and flowers so that everyone can remember your big day.

Conclusion

While most traditional ceremonies are fading away, we highly recommend that you borrow from the traditional Bahamian ceremonies. Infuse these with your western version of a wedding to have a hybrid of sorts. One thing is for sure, a destination wedding in the Bahamas is delightful and full of memories that you will look back at for many years.

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